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The summer of 2014 has produced a surfeit of runner beans in southern England.

Not surprisingly, many shy away from this delicious vegetable because of its stringiness. Nearly every oversized runner bean has at least one dreaded, fibrous string.

Hoping she doesn’t mind, I have borrowed Shaheen’s marvellous picture of runner beans for those who do not know what they look like. Her entry on A Seasonable Veg Table (Allotment2Kitchen) explains that, although this is one of Britain’s most prolific vegetables, the runner bean is of South American origin.

To prepare runner beans for cooking, I do the following, which yields favourable comments:

1/ Top and tail the beans. With ordinary green beans, I often keep the curly bit on the end, but the runner bean’s is too fibrous to cook, so I discard it.

2/ As I top and tail, I run my paring knife down the length of the bean on both sides to remove any fibrous strings.

3/ I cut the beans on the bias (diagonally) in bite-sized pieces.

To cook runner beans, this is what I do:

1/ Sauté 50 – 60g (approx. 2 oz) of chopped pancetta or bacon in a shallow pan.

2/ When the pancetta/bacon bits are cooked, add 454g (1 lb) sliced runner beans to the pan and add just enough stock (or water) to cover. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. They should be al dente when done.

3/ Drain the cooking liquid, taking care to retain the pancetta/bacon pieces.

4/ Add a tablespoon or two of butter along with a dash or two of garlic salt or one clove of crushed garlic. Stir well until the bacon and garlic butter are evenly incorporated, then serve.

Making vegetables more interesting keeps both children and adults happy at table.

Keeping carbs to a minimum and fat relatively high with the ketogenic diet increases satiety, calms the mind and helps the body decrease fat stores. These buttery runner beans are deeply satisfying for health and taste buds.

I’ll have another runner bean recipe soon. It, too, is perfect for those on a low carb high fat eating plan.

2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Pied Piper — children’s evacuation in England — which began in 1939, shortly before war was declared, and ended in 1944.

Members of the Evacuees Reunion Association have been giving interviews about their own experiences to educate a new generation who might not know much about this aspect of the Second World War in England.

My first post looked at the Association’s president’s experience, that of James Roffey. Yesterday’s was about Jack Hilton‘s.

Today’s discusses the war years of television presenter Michael Aspel, patron of the Association.

At the age of seven, he was sent with his sister Pat, nine, and little brother Alan, four, from Battersea in London to Chard, Somerset. They spent four-and-a-half years there.

It’s hard to believe that something like this could happen today, and let’s hope it never does in future. However, Great Britain was a different place then, with statesmen instead of career politicians. As one man who commented on Aspel’s story says (emphases mine):

I to[o] was an evacuee aged eight and even at that age we realised that a lot of people were dying to keep this country free[;] today our politicans are dying to give the country away.

Aspel recalls a happy time. His foster parents left him a lot of leeway, so he was able to wander around exploring Chard and surrounds. He made friends with the GIs who were billeted nearby; they left him a box of medals and buttons before they left for the Normandy landings.

He also enjoyed school, particularly his teacher, Miss Audrey Guppy. They reunited in the 1960s once he began appearing on national television. She wrote him a letter saying that she’d seen one of his shows. Some years later, they discovered that they lived five minutes apart. From then on, Aspel paid his former teacher weekly visits until her death at age 99.

In December 2008, Aspel and other evacuees were part of the documentary Evacuees Reunited (ITV1). Having read their stories this week, I’m sorry I never watched the programme. Perhaps it is online.

Just before the programme aired, Aspel gave an interview to the Daily Mail in which he described his war years away from home in more detail.

He says that, prior to evacuation — a concept the children didn’t understand — he and his fellow pupils practised walking down the street wearing gas masks. He said the drills were ‘fun, exciting’.

Then, one day, he and his siblings were each buttoned up in their coats and given suitcases.

My mother didn’t come. There was no big goodbye, just a lot of children being led to the station, Pied Piper style, and put onto a train. It was stuffy. Mostly I just remember taking Alan to the loo because he had messed his trousers.

At Chard, the children were herded into a community centre. Aspel has memories similar to that of James Roffey in West Sussex:

People came along and just picked what children they wanted. Most wanted boys, to work in the fields. No one actually came for me. I don’t know why.

He says that nearly every evacuee remembers being the last child chosen by a foster family — a natural misconception probably because it was such a fraught time that every boy and girl felt apprehensive and alone. It wasn’t unusual for siblings to be split up.

His brother and sister went to one family’s home and young Michael to another. Rose and Cyril Grabham agreed to take him in, although they were not at home when he arrived. Aspel recalls sitting in their front room for what seemed a very long time. It was not until later that he realised Mrs Grabham — whom he calls Auntie Rose — was out in the back garden.

The Grabhams’ 19-year old son was fighting in the war. Aspel remembers feeling unsettled the first night he stayed with them. Auntie Rose gave him her son’s toy gun, which helped, and kissed him once — on the forehead the next morning. After the war, he visited them several times and had happy reunions.

Auntie Rose was a good cook. She could skin her own rabbits and make delicious stews.

As for relationships with other children, Aspel recalls that the ‘vaccies’ — as they were called by their peers — often had problems. Some were bullied. Aspel, on the other hand, was one to fight back and had his fair share of scrapes.

He summed up the evacuation experience this way:

‘The thing is, it underlined how much I had been one of the lucky ones,’ he says. ‘Some evacuees had the most dreadful experiences – abused, uncared for, treated in ways that seem horrific today.

‘… much of it was quite wonderful – but it was still a huge deal. Any child going through that today would be offered counselling, at the very least

‘Today, of course, it would be considered barbaric; but we just accepted it, as did our parents in sending us away. They thought they were doing the right thing.’

Back at home in Battersea, he and his father had a highly uneasy relationship for many years. Aspel says that they occasionally threw punches at each other. However, Aspel senior was a good grandfather, at which point father and son made a truce.

Aspel believes that his father was traumatised from his service during the Second World War. Nothing was quite the same afterward and his mother also found the ensuing years highly stressful.

Aspel’s career has been a great one, his name a household word. Today, he is best known for having hosted This Is Your Life and Antiques Roadshow. However, his track record in marriage has been less successful, although he told the Mail that he hesitates to blame that on his post-war home life.

Whatever the case, I am glad that I read his and the other stories from members of the Evacuees Reunion Association. May we never forget what children in wartime went through 70 – 75 years ago.

Yesterday’s post introduced Operation Pied Piper — children’s evacuation — part of the history of the Second World War with which many people outside of Britain and the Commonwealth nations are unfamiliar.

A few members of the Evacuees Reunion Association have recently given interviews in which they describe their experiences. Yesterday’s post related that of James Roffey, founder of the Association.

It is difficult to know what to think of children’s evacuation. I have my own opinion, however, I wasn’t alive at the time so have no idea what it was really like living in England during the war.

However, I did know one Londoner, a widow, whose son was evacuated to a farm in the Home Counties. She went to collect him after several weeks as she couldn’t bear to be parted from him. As far as dying in a bombing raid, one supposes she thought they would take their chances. At night, in the air raid shelter of their nearest Tube station, at least they were together.

Today’s entry is about another Evacuees Reunion Association member Jack Hilton, aged 84, who still lives in his parents’ house in Penge East, South London. Mr Hilton lost his mother during the war, whilst he was miles away in South Yorkshire:

“She said ‘Your dad’s in France with the invasion and he could get killed’,” the 84-year-old told

“’Mike [Jack’s younger brother] and I are here with the doodlebugs and we could get killed.’

“’I want one member of the family to survive.’ That is the last thing she ever said to me. I never saw her again.”

Hilton was part of the last tranche of evacuees, leaving in 1944 at the age of 13. He recalls missing his younger brother, who was three years old at the time. Neither knew at the time that their mother was slowly dying.

Young Jack ended up in Barnsley with Mr and Mrs Wines and their four-year old daughter Olwen. He lived with them for three months.

Fortunately, they accepted Jack as a member of the family. He kept in touch with them for many years and went to visit them in 1974.

In the video, he describes the first dinner Mrs Wines prepared for him: pickles, potatoes and corned beef. He says it’s still one of his favourite meals.

He also tells how happy he was at being able to sleep in a bed at the Wines’s house. Back in Penge East, he slept during the war curled up in a sheltered part of the house where the coal was stored.

Hilton went on to pick up his life after the war and today has seven grandchildren.


One aspect of the Second World War which wasn’t covered in history class in the United States many years ago was the evacuation of English children to safer areas — and Commonwealth countries.

If I’d realised that at the time, I would have better understood the background to Lord of the Flies. I don’t recall understanding the context and doubt the teacher explained it to us in class. However, that was many years ago, and perhaps I didn’t read the first few pages that well.

It was only when I moved here that I learned about this mass evacuation, officially called Operation Pied Piper. I cannot imagine how terrifying that must have been for the hundreds of thousands of children who were sent to foster families around the country and overseas. Germany and Japan, incidentally, had similar programmes for their children during the war.

The Evacuees Reunion Association brings together those who underwent this experience and furthers education for today’s generation on this period in history. The Association has upwards of 1,500 members around the world.

As with everything else in life, some children were better treated than others. It is instructive to read the memories that these people had in their time away from home.

The founder of the Evacuees Reunion Association, James Roffey, recently described his evacuation with his brother and sister from Camberwell, in South London. The Roffey children left via sister Jean’s (Joan’s?) school, ending up in Pulborough, West Sussex. (The article really could have been better edited, especially considering its content. We don’t know how old Mr Roffey was at the time nor the name of his sister.)

They were among the first tranche to leave London. It was during school holidays in 1939, just before war was declared:

I remember my mother saying “If you are evacuated you will go with Joan and she will look after you”. I didn’t have any say in the matter.

We all had little suitcases and the basic necessities – clean shirt, pyjamas, toothbrush and toothpaste – the poorer children had their belongings in a pillow case. For several days we went to school ready to be evacuated but it didn’t happen until one Friday we went to school and everything was different.

For security reasons, children and parents did not know the final destination. Parents were not allowed to walk with their children in some cases, but on the other side of the road:

The mothers were at the iron school gate but the police made sure they didn’t get anywhere near us.

We were marched down to Queens Road railway station and the parents had to walk along the other side of the road. There was absolute chaos because some of the mothers just couldn’t go through with it.

Although young James Roffey — under eight years of age — found the trip rather ‘exciting’, not all the children shared his enthusiasm (emphases mine):

The journey lasted about four hours so some children were travel sick, some wet themselves. It was that more than anything that lead to rumours that all evacuees were dirty, weren’t housetrained and came from the slums.

When we arrived there was just one toilet at the station for about 300 children so they rigged up makeshift toilets with tarpaulin and buckets.

There was a long wait for busses, some older boys ran away so they put us in the pens of the cattle market.

A district nurse deloused the children. Although her manner was harsh, he later got to know her and said she was ‘actually a lovely person’.

Before boarding the busses to their final destinations, the children had an opportunity to avail themselves of cakes and sweets, however, Roffey remembers:

… none of it was touched because anxiety had set in. We were all thinking: “Where am I? What’s happening to me? I want my mum!”

Farmers chose older boys to work on farms. The billeting officers assigned the rest of the children homes. If they knocked on your door, you were obliged to take the children in:

They couldn’t find anyone to take two boys and a girl so the billeting officer came over and grabbed John and literally forced him away from Jean – she was distraught. I wasn’t, I was glad to see the back of him.

We were driven to a semi-derelict cottage where the woman didn’t want to take us but the billeting officer put his foot in the door, pushed J[ea]n and I in and drove off.

The government compensated the host families for taking in evacuees, similar to the present foster family system.

A fortnight later, Jean and James went to different homes. James ended up with a couple who owned a sweet shop. Lucky boy! He stayed with them and their 14-year old daughter for four years.

Roffey says that homesickness and sadness were strictly out of bounds:

All evacuees experienced homesickness but it wasn’t recognised in those days – you weren’t allowed to go around looking miserable. You were told: “Pull yourself together – don’t you know there’s a war going on?”

Letters home were censored by the foster parents or the teachers. If we wrote that we were unhappy they would tell us “You don’t want to upset your mother”, and if they didn’t like what we’d written they’d rip the letters up.

He said that whatever anxiety you felt at the time had to be internalised:

You had to hide it. We called it ‘it’ – it is still with us to this day, it is something you never really get over.

Roffey has written a book, ‘Send Them To Safety’, available through the Evacuees Reunion Association.

The comments beneath the article with Roffey’s story contain more insights regarding evacuation. Several describe a lifelong friendship with their wartime foster parents. Others say they stayed with relatives. Sadly, as one might expect, some children lost their parents during the war and had to be adopted.

Tomorrow’s post has another evacuee’s story.

Comments are welcome, particularly from readers who were children during the war.

My preceding post summarised the influence that Huguenots had on English society and culture.

Today’s looks at a generational example of how the descendants of Huguenots continued the same tradition. Sir Samuel Romilly was one such example.

Although children and grandchildren of Huguenots absorbed the value of education and hard work, some found that their faith began to wane. This is probably not surprising, given that, by this time, the Age of Enlightenment was in full flow and secularism became more popular.

In his article ‘England’s “First Refugees”‘, historian Dr Robin Gwynn cites the story of Samuel Romilly for whom the eponymous street in London’s Soho is named. Romilly was born in nearby Frith Street.

Before we come to Gwynn’s account of Romilly’s thoughts about his heritage, Wikipedia describes his origins:

Romilly was … the second son of Peter Romilly, a watchmaker and jeweller. His grandfather had emigrated from Montpellier after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and had married Margaret Garnault, a Huguenot refugee like himself, but of a far wealthier family. Samuel served for a time in his father’s shop; he was well-educated, becoming a good classical scholar and particularly conversant with French literature. A legacy of £2000 from one of his mother’s relations led to his being articled to a solicitor and clerk in chancery with the idea of qualifying himself to purchase the office of one of the six clerks in chancery.

Romilly went on to have a radical influence on English law:

In 1808, he managed to repeal the Elizabethan statute which made it a capital offence to steal from the person … in 1812 he had repealed a statute of Elizabeth I making it a capital offence for a soldier or a mariner to beg without a pass from a magistrate or his commanding officer. In 1813 he failed to pass a law which would have abolished corruption of blood [prohibiting inheritance from a criminal] for all crimes, but in the following year he tried again and succeeded (except for treason and murder). Also in 1814 he succeeded in abolishing hanging, drawing and quartering.

In addition to the learned circles in which he mixed locally, Romilly also had many influential friends in France with whom he exchanged ideas. These helped to affect his view of the law. His reputation was such that he became highly popular in political circles and was knighted. He served as Solicitor General and as a Whig MP for three different constituencies on the Sussex coast.

He also helped William Wilberforce and other fellow MPs to abolish slavery in 1807:

The trade was abolished by a resounding 283 to 16. According to Thomas Clarkson, it was the largest majority recorded on any issue where the House divided. Romilly felt it to be “the most glorious event, and the happiest for mankind, that has ever taken place since human affairs have been recorded.”

Now to Gwynn’s information about Romilly and his ancestors:

His great-grandfather, a landowner at Montpellier, had remained in the south of France after the Revocation, but continued to worship in Protestant ways within the security of his own home, and brought up his children as Protestants. It was Samuel’s grandfather, Etienne, who became a refugee in 1701, at the age of seventeen. He went to Geneva for the specific purpose of receiving Communion, and there decided not to return home but to go instead to London. Only then did he inform his family of his decision, but his father accepted the situation and sent money to him from France which helped him establish himself as a wax-bleacher in Hoxton, It is typical of first-generation refugees to marry others of their own kind, and Etienne married Judith de Monsallier, the daughter of another Huguenot immigrant.

Samuel Romilly’s father, Peter, was apprenticed to a Frenchman in the City, a jeweller named Lafosse. In due course Peter[,] too[,] married the daughter of a refugee, Margaret Gamault, so Samuel was brought up in surroundings which retained strong Huguenot influences.

Samuel Romilly later recalled attending church twice on Sundays. His father Peter alternated these visits between the Anglican parish church and the French church of which he was a member. Peter was also intent on practising charity, which Samuel noted held more importance for his father than religious practice.

Samuel had poor impressions of the French church, parts of which sound as if they could have been written yesterday:

Most of the descendants of the refugees were born and bred in England, and desired nothing less than to preserve the memory of their origin; and their chapels were therefore ill-attended. A large uncouth room, the avenues to which were narrow courts and dirty alleys, and which, when you entered it, presented to the view only irregular unpainted pews and dusty plastered walls; a congregation consisting principally of some strange-looking old women scattered here and there, one or two in a pew, and a clergyman reading the service and preaching in a monotonous tone of voice, and in a language not familiar to me, was not likely either to impress my mind with much religious awe, or to attract my attention to the doctrines which were delivered.

His impressions of attending French school were no better.

With regard to organised religion, he seems to have been ambivalent. On the one hand, he continued to attend the aforementioned French church as an adult and was delighted when John Roget became pastor there. He and Roget became close friends, to the extent that Samuel’s sister Catherine married the minister.

However, John appears to have died at a young age. His and Catherine’s son, Peter Mark Roget (1779 – 1869), remained close to his uncle Samuel. Peter Roget, incidentally, was a physician, then after retirement, compiled the first Roget’s Thesaurus. Such detailed list-making helped him to combat depression. His son John Lewis Roget and grandson Samuel Romilly Roget expanded his work. You can find out more about Peter Mark Roget here; he also invented the slide rule. He was also the secretary for the Royal Society for 21 years and invented a pocket chessboard.

With the loss of his clergyman brother-in-law John, it is possible that Samuel Romilly drifted further away from the faith. John might have had some part to play as well. It was he who introduced Samuel to Rousseau’s work. That said, it appears that Samuel continued to attend church, at least occasionally. As an MP, he recorded in his diary (Memoirs of the Life of Sir Samuel Romilly, Volume 2, p. 301):

Oct. 25. After Church, and after I had sat in court, I went to Bishop Auckland, and passed the rest of the day there. 

Although he admired the concept of the French Revolution, he was highly critical of its atheistic nature. Spartacus Educational explains:

In 1790 he published a pamphlet Thoughts on the probable influence of the French Revolution on Great Britain. Rose Melikan, has argued: ” … His own indoctrination in Anglicanism and French Calvinism had not inspired a very profound dedication to organized religion. He felt that the French anti-clericalism, however, was both unreasonable and likely to presage further persecution.” Romilly later admitted that the French Revolution produced “among the higher orders… a horror of every kind of innovation”.

Romilly continued his father’s charitable efforts by serving as a director of the French Protestant Hospital in London.

It is unfortunate that, upon hearing of the death of his beloved wife on the Isle of Wight, he secluded himself in a room in his house in Russell Square, London, and slit his throat. His aforementioned nephew Peter Roget — still traumatised by his father’s and wife’s premature deaths — attended to his uncle in his final moments on October 29, 1818. Although Wikipedia states Romilly is buried in a family vault in Radnorshire, Wales, Find A Grave’s biography by Iain MacFarliane states that he is buried in his wife Anne’s hometown of Knill, Herefordshire, in St Michael’s and All Angels churchyard.

There are more examples of Huguenots and their descendants who similarly changed society and culture in dramatic ways. I’ll take a closer look at their stories in August 2015, God willing.

For now, here is Dr Gwynn’s summary of this particular generation in England:

by and large it was the members of his – the third – generation of refugees who were the last to show any profound awareness of the Huguenot character of their families. In 1787 those Protestants who remained in France finally won toleration, and shortly afterwards special rights were offered to Huguenot descendants who might wish to return there. Very few of those who had crossed the Channel can have been tempted, for assimilation was complete. What had been French had become British.

Yesterday’s post covered the Huguenot influence on the Channel Islands, Jersey in particular. It also looked at General — or Marshal — Vauban’s statistics on the wealth, expertise and military training the Huguenots were taking from France.

Religious persecution can have a profound effect on the nation of origin — in this case, France — and the new host nation for refugees, the second most popular of which was England.

Dr Robin Gwynn — author, historian and retired professor — deplores our late 20th century loss of history, particularly that of the Huguenots. In 1985, he told the Christian Science Monitor of his astonishment that a 1978 volume covering the period between 1658 and 1714 has no mention of the French Protestants who fled to Britain, principally England.

Gwynn was referring to Crown and Court by J R Jones. Jones, by way of reply to the Monitor, said he thought the Huguenots were little more than a footnote.  Jones is not alone. A contemporary of his, Professor John Kenyon of St Andrew’s University in Scotland, is equally dismissive of this large wave of immigrants — approximately 50,000 people in a country with a population of a little over 5 million during Louis XIV’s reign. Afterward, the Huguenots continued to migrate to England. By the mid-18th century, 500,000 had arrived.

Gwynn says that the Huguenots’ influence on English society should not be forgotten:

They knew that in the 19th century. If you read [the English historian] Macaulay, he was well aware of the Huguenot input. In 1900, you couldn’t possibly have written a history of Stuart England without mentioning the Huguenots. But in the 1980s you can. 

The Monitor explains:

In England, Huguenots were spread across a range of classes, although they were mainly urban in origin. Their mark was left on painting, sculpture, acting, teaching, and medicine.

Moreover, the Huguenots seem to have forced on England a greater degree of religious tolerance …

Not to mention their fine goods manufacture: silk weaving, lace trims, furniture, jewellery, silversmithing and watchmaking.

The Monitor then cites two important details which prove that Vauban was right about the Huguenots’ departure weakening France militarily and economically:

Huguenot presence in the English Army became a significant factor in the eventual defeat of Louis XIV.

In finance, too, the Huguenots were prominent: They provided 10 percent of the initial capital for the Bank of England, and six of the original governors, including the chairman, were Huguenots.

Gwynn developed his interest in the French Protestants because his mother was the first official researcher for the Huguenot Society of London. She also wrote the standard book on the history of the Huguenots in Ireland.

Incidentally, Gwynn spoke at the 1985 tercentenary commemorations of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in Jersey, the subject of my previous post.

I have found his summaries of his research and his books to be not only informative but fascinating to read. The following information comes from his article for History Today called ‘England’s “First Refugees”‘. (The transcribed article has several glaring punctuation and spelling errors.)

As I wrote yesterday of countries which welcomed the Huguenots:

These nations, among others, were known to the French as pays du Refuge. In fact, the word refugié (refugee) is hardly a new one. It came about with the escape of the Huguenots from France and was first coined in 1681 (see p. 4 of the PDF, a talk by historian Robin Gwynn).

Gwynn tells us this was often shortened to rés.

Popularity of England — and London

England proved a popular destination, second only to the Netherlands. The Huguenots’ faith would be well received with freedom of practice unhindered.

Most who fled to England were highly skilled craftsmen or learning the trades, as a number of poorer Huguenots were among them. Others were in the main professions — e.g. law, medicine. A few Protestant noblemen also made a new home for themselves. Whatever the status, literacy was good to strong as was assimilation into society.

The English — then as now — were fond of French merchandise, particularly at the upper end of the scale. Therefore, Huguenots gravitated to London, found a French congregation, met its members and secured work through it. Whilst not all made a fortune, they were at least nearly guaranteed to make a living and support a family. A number of Huguenot charities were in existence which helped, too.

Huguenots coming from French seaports often preferred to settle along or near the southern and southwest coast from Kent to Bristol.

Further north, they were fewer. The markets were not as favourable as London’s, although Chester and Edinburgh both had small Huguenot settlements.

Reaction of the English

Then — as now — there was a natural suspicion of the French, based on longstanding history dating back to the Norman Conquest. Those in lesser positions of work also feared that the new arrivals would take their jobs.

As Gwynn says:

The appearance of so many people fleeing government action abroad had no previous parallels in English history … Not until the nineteenth century can any other swell of refugees be said to compare remotely with the Huguenots.

However, nearly everyone — from whatever social class they came from — understood that the Huguenots were being mercilessly persecuted in France by a Catholic king. Public opinion soon changed to a more empathetic and welcoming one.

Rapid assimilation

The first sign of Huguenot assimilation was in their surnames. Depending on the clerk who was processing paperwork upon their arrival, it happened sooner rather than later:

‘Lacklead’ has a Scottish, ‘Bursicott’ a West Country air; they are what Englishmen made of de la Clide and de Boursaquotte when they first encountered those Huguenot names.

That said, as in South Africa, a number of Huguenot surnames survive today:

names like Bosanquet, Courtauld, Dollond, Gambier, Garrick, Minet, Portal, Tizard. A few, such as de Gruchy, Le Fanu, Lefevre, Lefroy or Ouvry, still immediately strike one as of foreign origin.

Some Hugenot families anglicised their family names themselves from:

Andrieu, Boulanger, Barbier, de la Croix, Forestier, Reynard, Le Cerf, Mareschal, Le Moine, de la Neuvemaison, de la Pierre, Blanc and Dubois


Andrews, Baker, Barber, Cross, Forrester, Fox, Hart, Marshall, Monk, Newhouse, Peters, White, Wood.

One man who did so was the famous actor David Garrick’s grandfather — also named David. Wikipedia tells us (emphases mine):

Garrick’s grandfather, David Garric, was in Bordeaux in 1685 when the Edict of Nantes was abolished, revoking the rights of Protestants in France. David Garric fled to London and his son, Peter, who was an infant at the time, was later smuggled out by a nurse when he was deemed old enough to make the journey. David Garric became a British subject upon his arrival in Britain and anglicised the name to Garrick.[2]

Gwynn says the Huguenots settled in to English society relatively quickly with the following result:

The number of Huguenots who sought refuge in England was so large, in relation to a national population of perhaps five and a half million at the end of the seventeenth century, that assimilation and intermarriage mean that most English readers of this journal will have some Huguenot blood in their veins.

Allegiance to England

The Huguenots maintained their good social and religious reputation in England. In addition, their contribution to commerce and intellectual life won them friends among the English.

The Huguenots also felt an allegiance to their new host country. As I mentioned above, they fought with the English to defeat Louis XIV. They also opposed Bonnie Prince Charlie:

[W]hen the Young Pretender appeared in 1745, the Huguenots were quick to come forward with loyal addresses promising men for service against him.

Their loyalty never waned, even through successive generations.

Tomorrow’s post examines the life of Samuel Romilly, a descendant of Huguenots. London’s eponymous street in Soho is named after him.

My past two posts — here and here — looked at Huguenots settling in South Africa, thanks to the efforts of the Netherlands and the Dutch East India Company.

Other Huguenots found European countries more to their liking, among them England and the Channel Islands. These nations, among others, were known to the French as pays du Refuge. In fact, the word refugié (refugee) is hardly a new one. It came about with the escape of the Huguenots from France and was first coined in 1681 (see p. 4 of the PDF, a talk by historian Robin Gwynn).

This timeline describes the long persecution of French Protestants. Some were allowed to settle in England under Edward VI’s and Elizabeth I’s reigns in the 16th century. Elizabeth I also helped to finance the Huguenot effort in France, as did Germany (see item 9 of the timeline).

After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in October 1685, opinion among powerful Frenchmen was divided. Whilst many lauded Louis XIV’s decree, General Vauban sounded the alarm regarding the Huguenot flight four years later in 1689:

- 80,000 to 100,000 people had left;

- 30 million livres (‘pounds’, their currency at the time) went with them, in cash;

- France’s high-end craftsmanship and luxury goods industry — a lucrative source of exports — were ruined with their departure;

- 8,000 to 9,000 sailors had defected, ‘the best in the kingdom’;

- 10,000 to 12,000 soldiers along with 500 to 600 officers had deserted, ‘more warlike’ than those of the countries to which they had escaped — potentially putting France in grave danger in her ongoing conflicts, especially with England.

In England, suspicions grew over James II’s seeming support of Louis XIV. Noblemen, politicians and everyday people believed James II was trying to stamp out the Protestant faith. The establishment’s opposition to his reign led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the accession of William of Orange (Dutch) to the throne. My post explains (emphases mine):

In order to bring England back to the Catholic Church, James II increased his standing army to 40,000 men.  Innkeepers who refused to accommodate Army officers lost their licences.  He also used the newly developed post office as a means of spying on dissenters.  He also ensured that local government officials supported him and filled Parliament with men who were onside.

A number of Christians in England — mostly Protestants, but even a number of Catholics — opposed this illiberal approach.  So, too, did the prominent political parties at the time, the Whigs and the Tories.  Together, they managed, despite the lack of instant communication we know today, to build a network to oppose James II’s reforms.  This revolt, known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688, was less bloody than the subsequent French revolution of 1789 (in which revolt against the monarchy and the Church featured prominently).  Nonetheless, it was marked by intense and violent popular uprisings which culminated in an Anglo-Dutch military invasion which saw William of Orange become King of England …

The Glorious Revolution was short, ending the following year.   Yet, it paved the way for the Acts of Union in 1707, readying the country for the Industrial Revolution and the building of the British Empire.  England became a modern, liberal state by becoming a constitutional monarchy, which effectively did away with the notion of the divine right of kings.  Parliament created a Bill of Rights which, among other things, guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right of petition and abolition of cruel and unusual punishments.

During this time, the island of Jersey, close to the French mainland as are the other Channel Islands, was a popular first port of call and, for some, final destination for fleeing Huguenots.

Jersey still retains a French flavour and combines the best of France and British influence.

In 1985, the Société Jersiaise commemorated the 300th anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. To assemble the most history as possible of their Huguenot families, they called on a number of sources, including the Huguenot Society of London. They also invited guest speakers, including some from France, to talk about this period of history. As Marguerite Syrvet explains in her article (linked above):

Stories of evacuation, escape by sea, deportation, helped us to recreate the circumstances of those earlier migrations. Escape routes, safe houses, trusted guides, information by word of mouth or on scraps of paper led to La Rochelle or Granville, recognised ports of escape. 

She describes two stories of refugees. Louis Moquet, who died in 1789, related his to his grand-daughter Marie Chevalier. Since then, it has stayed in the family:

A native of Poitou, Moquet was forced to wander from place to place to avoid his enemies: ‘The persecutions in France against the French Protestants constrained him to fly for refuge to the island of Jersey. Having been married by a Protestant minister, he was in danger of being sent to the galleys for life. His wife was taken from him and placed in a convent, where she remained eighteen months. Whilst there she gave birth to a child who died soon after. One of the nuns, moved with compassion, promised to help her to escape, provided she would not discover it.

Mrs Moquet made this known to her husband in Jersey who went over to Granville. With the assistance of friends she escaped in the night and, having joined her husband, went over with him to Jersey. Louis prospered and was appointed ‘distributor of the Royal Bounty to Protestant refugees’.

The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland explains more about this Royal Bounty. They add that it can be useful for those tracing their Huguenot heritage. That said, they advise that people know in advance roughly where in England or the Channel Islands one’s ancestors lived.

Ironically, given the history above, James II instituted the Royal Bounty in 1686, the year after the Revocation of the Treaty of Nantes. The Royal Bounty continued through the reign of George III.

In 1804, Parliament ruled that the Bounty be paid to existing pensioners only. The last Huguenot pensioner died in 1876, as did the Bounty.

An English Committee managed the funds which they delegated to the French Committee made up of prestigious and well-respected Huguenots to distribute accordingly. An Ecclesiastical Committee was in charge of donating funds to poor Huguenot clergymen.

Distributions were made to the following categories of Protestant refugees: Noblesse or People of Quality, the Bourgeoisie or People of the Middling Sort and the Common People. Bounty records often are good with the first two groups but less so with the last. Some receipts of people signing for money have also been preserved. This is why the Bounty documentation can be helpful to genealogists.

Returning to Jersey by way of Marguerite Syvret’s article, she tells of another true Jersey story, related to Charles Dickens which he included in an 1853 edition of his journal, Household Words. It involves Magdalen Lefebvre whose great-granddaughter, in turn, related it to Dickens:

Farmer Lefebvre lived in Normandy on a small, self-sufficient estate producing honey, vegetables, poultry and livestock to feed his family; sheep, hemp and flax to provide wool, linen and fine thread to clothe them. On a rare visit to the market at Avranches to purchase a cow he learnt of the Revocation and its implications. His wife was an invalid unable to travel, but lest their infant daughter, Magdalen, be taken from them to a convent, they arranged for her to be sent to Jersey. Wrapped in a mattress half concealed in sackcloth and a load of straw, the child was taken by horse and cart to Granville and entrusted to the owner of a fishing smack with apples and pears for Jersey, where the orchard crops had failed.

With her went a trunk containing her unfinished trousseau begun at her birth by her mother and made with fine spun thread from home grown flax. Willing hands took her from Jersey to London to be brought up by maiden aunts.

The schoolchildren of Jersey took part in an essay-writing competition concerning the island’s Huguenot influence. One essay quoted the Victorian author and civic reformer, Samuel Smiles, a Scot who was raised as a Reformed Presbyterian. Although he discontinued religious practice as an adult, he blended Calvinist values into his works, the most famous of which is Self-Help. Of Jersey and the Huguenots, Smiles wrote:

Although the refugees for the most part regarded the Channel Islands as merely temporary places of refuge … a sufficient number remained to determine the Protestant character of the community and completely to transform the islands by their industry; since which time Jersey and Guernsey, from being among the most backward and miserable places on the face of the earth, have come to be recognised as among the most happy and prosperous.

They continue to be so today and prove to be delightful holiday destinations. Those who are able to live there permanently are blessed indeed.

More will follow tomorrow on the Huguenots in England.

Although cycling fans in Britain were disappointed that we had no chance of winning this year’s Tour de France, nonetheless we enjoyed three weeks of suspense.

Thankfully, the Tour took the decision a few years ago to make it more challenging, the way it was a century ago.

Outside of Vincenzo Nibali’s reign at the top, the rest of the overall classification turned out to be as unpredictable as the stages.

From the start, favourites dropped out because of injury. Crashes were frequent. Mark Cavendish collided with Simon Gerrans near the finish line of Stage 1 in Harrogate. Cavendish went on to hospital and an urgent operation a few days later. Gerrans hung in there until Stage 17.

The crashes happen anyway, but perhaps never involved as many team leaders and other stars as this year’s. Chris Froome, last year’s winner, was out on Stage 5, causing team Sky to rethink their strategy. Andy Schleck was out on Stage 4. Alberto Contador — another favourite — crashed on Stage 10. Andrew Talansky left on Stage 12. Rui Costa dropped out on Stage 16.

The weather was surprisingly sunny in Yorkshire and unusually rainy in France. Moist tarmac and slick paving stones created havoc, causing collisions and flat tyres. Even when the sun was shining, the mountain stages — several of which were unfamiliar to the riders — proved relentless with their many steep gradients.

That said, for those riders fortunate or savvy enough to persevere until the end, the feeling of accomplishment was palpable. The overall winner of the race, Vincenzo Nibali, announced in Paris on Sunday, July 27:

Those past few days, when I was asked which one was my best moment of the Tour, I anticipated that no feeling of happiness could be compared to what we feel on the podium at the Champs-Elysées. It’s even more beautiful than what I could imagine.

Alessandro De Marchi, winner of the Combativity Prize, was at the other end of the spectrum in some ways, yet, was delighted with the result:

I’m very happy and proud to be part of the protocol ceremony on the Champs-Elysées. It’s been difficult to ride the way I did during three weeks but I want to continue racing aggressively in the future …

We have much to look forward to next year with regard to the high quality of French riders. AG2R La Mondiale won the team prize with all nine of their riders present on the podium in the Champs Elysées.  Their Jean-Christophe Peraud came in second place and Romain Bardet sixth.

Peraud, who crashed but recovered in Paris — proving the final stage is more than ceremonial — said:

I had realised yesterday already with the tears, I was aware of the importance of my performance. I never do things simply, I added a little last-minute handicap. I had that idea that something would happen. I was used as a skittle, I was pushed aside by the whole peloton. According to Christophe Riblon, there was a bottle on the tarmac that cause a big wave and I was taken down. It added a little bit of stress. I needed a little bit of spice on the last day.

It was above all moving after the time trial, now I put things back in perspective and I could take advantage of the nice view of Paris …

Bardet sounded apologetic for coming in sixth, then predicted great things in future:

… it’s only my second Tour de France, I lack a little bit of experience at times. But 6th is early a great performance. There is really a big generation in France. With Thibaut [Pinot, see below], we’re going to battle it out in the years to come, but there is also a good international opposition. To ride that fast and that young at such level, it’s good for the future. Now we’re going to spend a good evening together with the team and the family. We achieved a great collective performance in the first place.

Thibaut Pinot from FDJ (Française des Jeux) won Best Young Rider and came third in the overall classification:

The objective was the top 10, we knew the white jersey would come along as well. It’s the way I am, I love to attack, I love to have fun in the climbs. That’s bike riding the way I see it …

Bernard Hinault was the last Frenchman to win the Tour … in 1985! Could 2015 be France’s year? I look forward to finding out.

In closing, this year marked Jens Vogt’s farewell Tour. Aged 43, he’s participated in 17 and will be sorely missed. He went out in style with a brief one-man attack on the Champs Elysées.

Also worth mentioning is this year’s lanterne rouge, Cheng Ji, China’s first participant in the Tour. Although he finished 164th and crashed in Paris, he provided useful pacing for his team, Giant Shimano, throughout. We wish him well in his recovery from his left elbow and knee trauma. It was a relief to find that he was able to finish the stage and avoid disqualification.

Roll on 2015 — vive le Tour!

Those who watch the Tour de France at home could be forgiven for not thinking very much of the podium ladies who present the stage awards and the various coloured jerseys on each day’s stage.

After all, we only see them at the end.

Yet, as Le Monde‘s blog En Danseuse — ‘standing on the pedals’ — explains, they have a full time job just as everyone else involved in this three-week endurance race does.

Henri Seckel interviewed the podium ladies who present Tour sponsor Antargaz’s daily award for the Most Aggressive Rider. This presentation isn’t usually shown on television, but it is for the rider who does his very best — despite physiological and environmental conditions — to finish a stage. However, he must put strategic and aggressive effort into his performance.

The ultimate winner of this accolade, officially known as the Combativity Award, is announced in Paris on the final day of racing — Sunday, July 27, 2014. One lucky losing rider will be in pocket:

Prize money: € 20,000 for the overall winner (€ 58,000 in total).

By contrast, the overall Yellow Jersey winner, who, this year, will be Vincenzo Nibali, will win over €1m.

More on Nibali in a minute.

The Combativity Award

First, to Henri Seckel’s interview with the ladies, Priscilla and Ophélie, who present the Antargaz award. The title of the blog post states that the Combativity Award is not a rubbish prize.

Ophélie explains that it goes to someone who has:

the courage, the pluck, the genius that gives the impression that he could be a stage winner or the best sprinter or the best climber. As there are riders who would like to win this award, it has value.

Becoming a podium lady

Now on to how the ladies got started with the Tour.

Ophélie says that she initially applied to be a driver:

I didn’t realise you had to have such a lot of experience. They said, ‘You won’t be able to do that, but we have something else for you.’

Priscilla had worked on the publicity caravan:

and if you really love the Tour, you want to know everything about it. But I told myself I probably didn’t have the right profile [for the podium].

When asked what the desired profile is, Priscilla said there wasn’t really any of which to speak. Ophélie said:

You have to be tall, at least. Then, not too ugly.

Seckel asked them if they feared being seen as airheads. Both said they were kept quite busy throughout the day, it’s just that most people don’t see them. Ophélie explained:

In the morning, we help prepare the stage departure, we’re running around, we’re welcoming Antargaz’s guests. Then we go to the middle of the stage where there are more guests; we welcome everyone, distribute gifts, then it’s on to the finish. The podium is only two minutes in our day. 

Easygoing and friendly

Seckel then fielded questions about women’s temperaments. As to whether there were ‘wars’ between hostesses from different sponsors, both women said that all the ladies were easygoing. Priscilla added:

The recruitment criterion is for easygoing people. We’re not tearing each other’s hair out.

But, Seckel asked, what about the women who present the yellow jersey? Was there any envy on the part of those who weren’t selected for that?  Ophélie said that no one makes a big deal out of it:

Of course … it’s highly prestigious. But the day-to-day job is still the same.

When asked how they were treated by spectators or guests, Priscilla said that the ladies who work only in the caravan suffer any number of verbal insults, but the podium ladies are treated with great respect. The riders, she makes clear, are nice to everyone.

Post-Tour blues

Such is the experience of the podium lady that, post-Tour, it’s a bit of a wrench getting readjusted to normal life. Ophélie explained:

It’s such a huge event — you’re in a bubble, in a little cocoon. The first time, they tell you: ‘You’ll see. By the end, you’ll be in tears.’ Because you’re totally taken care of, lodged, fed, made beautiful, and then, all of a sudden, that’s it. You’re on the way home, on the train, all alone, no one recognises you because you aren’t carrying anything branded Antargaz, no one smiles, no one says hello.

Priscilla felt the same:

The first year, I said, ‘Nah, I won’t cry, I’ve only known you for three weeks.’ And, frankly, I never cried harder in all my life. The Tour family is not a myth. We see each other afterward, go on holiday together — it’s really impressive.

Podium choreography

I suspect that people who watch a stage all the way to the end for the podium presentations are those who insist on watching all the credits at the end of a film. I am one of those people.

Those of us who do watch the podium presentations know how well synchronised they are. Nothing is out of place. Everything goes like clockwork.

Priscilla and Ophélie said that everything is rehearsed again and again, down to the last detail. It’s not unusual for the podia to be marked for positioning one’s feet and one’s distance from the rider.

They both said that even the slightest faux pas must be avoided, including touching one’s hair. Hence the need for lots of hairspray pre-podium.

Watch the 2013 final awards in Paris (at 1:00 in) to see how the women stand, how they applaud in a ladylike way and how expertly they do this aspect of their job, including the accomplished airkisses they give the riders:

Yet, one Yellow Jersey podium lady bucked the trend this year. In Sheffield, at the end of Stage 2, Vincenzo Nibali won the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. He’s gone on to win it every day since.

Huffington Post has a seconds-long replay in slow motion. The brunette with the bouffant made it look as if she were giving him a kiss but actually only grabbed his neck, pulling him towards her, leaving him covering for the incident by adjusting his collar.

You can see more in a news report via YouTube:


No one knows the dynamics behind her refusal to kiss him. Please note that Nibali did not say anything publicly afterward, certainly not as HuffPo’s title might imply. That particular remark came from someone online.

Although not asked about this incident, Le Monde‘s Seckel did want to know about the riders’ hygiene post-race. Ophélie told Le Monde that they are very clean by the time they reach the podium:

At the finishing line, they get into a little camping car where they have a nice wash, change their jersey and so on, so that when they arrive on the podium they’re spick and span.

I shall miss these insights — as well as the Tour — come next week. They’ve become part of my life, too.

Whilst many Western countries have long outlawed the practice of home burial, here in the UK it is still legal.

Television presenter Kirsty Allsop recently told the Independent how she and other family members buried her late mother in her parents’ back garden.

Home burial is illegal in many countries because amateurish digging and interring can contaminate the water table or interfere with utility cables or pipes.

In the UK families seeking to bury a loved one at home cannot act independently but must first contact the Environment Agency for formal permission, which consists of a permit and burial record as well as a procedure to follow for interment. The burial site cannot be close to a ditch or water source.

Furthermore, whereas landed gentry have the space to inter many deceased relatives, the average British homeowner will not be able to bury many, probably only one or two.

Whilst the Natural Death Centre fully support home funerals and burials, they also have a word of advice when it comes time to sell the property. The organisation’s Rosie Inman-Cook writes:

… if a vendor fails to declare the presence of a body or two, then the new home owner would have good justification to successfully obtain permission to exhume, maybe even suing the vendor for the cost of that gruesome process.  However, these properties do sell.  I often wonder, if we all called in the archaeologists, how many of us would discover we have Saxon or Roman remains under our homes? Would that then bother us?

One of the commenters on Kirsty Allsop’s article remembered his family funerals being handled largely at home, except for interment at the local cemetery, until 1950.

He wrote of a British experience, but it was also widespread in the United States.

My grandparents and their friends were accustomed to laying out the deceased at home for a day or two and receiving visitors during that time. A rota of family were on hand from morning until late evening to greet those wishing to pay their last respects.

A more recent scene of this practice is in the 1971 film Get Carter — the original, starring Michael Caine — which takes place in Newcastle. Early in the film, Jack (Caine) sees his brother’s body for the last time in his house before the undertakers arrive to put the lid on the coffin and remove it for burial.

Today, of course, most of us are accustomed to no viewing at all (Britain) or a period of open-casket visitation at a funeral home (the US). Whatever the custom, the undertaker generally takes care of everything.

It is surprising — even with cremation — how expensive funerals can be here and elsewhere. I know of a recent one in the US where cremation and related costs amounted to $3,500 versus $13,000 for body burial at a pre-purchased cemetery plot two hours away. (The plot had been purchased 60 years beforehand, so does not figure in the costs cited here.)

Therefore, it is no wonder that those who can are increasingly opting for home burial. It won’t be for everyone — either practically or emotionally — but many in Britain are glad they have the freedom to go ahead with a plan that makes them feel closer to their loved one. As the Natural Death Centre says, it can also help with the grieving and healing process.

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